Sunday Morning Under the Fedora Media vs Brady, Kyrie addition by subtraction, Tampa Bay Lightning not striking twice, Betts as Ruth Redux and Games on paper vs games on paper

Are we still after last year seeing sports casters saying that even if the New England Patriots win against the hapless Dolphins today that the only question in the playoffs is: “Do the Patriots lose to Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs at home or in Kansas city?”

Now don’t get me wrong, Kansas City is a good team and as demonstrated earlier in the year they are quite capable of beating any team including the Patriots, but I can’t think of anything that is more likely to motivate an already great Patriots defense and Tom Brady back into “Deflategate revenge tour” mode than stuff like this.


It’s still very early in the season but I’d like to point out that last year the Brooklyn Nets finished the year at 42-40 with a .512 winning percentage without Kyrie Irving as the 6th seed while the Boston Celtics finished at 49-33 with a .598 winning percentage as the 5th seed in the east with Kyrie irving.

This year Irving left the Celtics and the team is currently the #3 seed at 22-8 with a .733 winning percentage and even with the #2 Miami Heat in the Loss Column. Irving signed with the nets who are currently 16-15 with a .516 winning percentage and 7th seeded in the conference, but more importantly is 12-8 with a .600 winning percentage since an injury sidelined Irving after a 4-7 start.

This man is the anti-Brady


Last year in the NHL during the Regular Season the Tampa Bay Lightning simply dominated the league in a way we hadn’t seen in years until the playoffs came around. I remember driving home after game one listening to sports radio as they declared that despite that loss Columbus had no chance right up until they finished the lightning off.

It’s a year later and the team that managed 128 points, a solid 20 above every other is now currently at 42 points five points behind the last wild card team. Now there are still 46 games to go but it’s an important reminder that you have to take advantage of any opportunity you have because you just might not get another chance.


Speaking of not getting another chance as the year ends and the 2020 season draws near we are still getting “the trade or don’t trade Mookie Betts” debate in Boston.

It’s been a pretty quiet off season for the Red Sox with three players from last world series win (Brock Holt, Mitch Moreland, Rick Porcello ) currently testing free agency and Catcher Sandy Leon traded to Cleveland for minor league pitcher Adenys Bautista. As of today their current offensive depth chart looks like this (via redsox.com):

With the exception of Pedroia this is pretty much the Red Sox offence that tore up the league last year but was betrayed by injuries in the rotation and weakness in the bullpen. Or to put it another way, this team is one closer and perhaps one healthy rotation away from fielding a team more than capable of dominating the American league with a monster offense, a zipper outfield and a rotation as good as any other in baseball.

So to those who say forget 2020 and trade Mookie let me remind all these people who have forgotten the lean times of a little history.

Exactly 100 years ago another Red Sox had an off season at 66-71-1 (one game called after 10 innings never made up) where they had dropped to sixth a year after winning the world series. They decided to get rid of their star right fielder, who could also pitch a bit, before the start of their next season selling him for a price higher than the entire payroll of the the previous year’s team. More money than the combined salaries of the top 8 players in the league.

That team had won five World series in the 20th century at that point, they would not win another.

Now Mookie Betts is no Babe Ruth but the point of the story is when you have a chance to win a World Series take it, because it might be another 86 years before you win another.


Finally as I mentioned before the old table top face to face fantasy baseball league that I started 32 years ago (the year before I got married) was revived this year. Going into Friday I had a record of 8-4 having won my 1st 4 series with a pair of series coming up against two relative newcomers with one season of experience between them both with losing records.

Over the next two days I lost 4-6 including a 9th inning blown save by Kimbrel, a 14th inning marathon, and had a team with Mookie Betts batting 1st and Anthony Rendon hitting 3rd shut out for the final 20 innings of the last two games against a sixteen year old kid who was playing in his 1st baseball simulation league 50 years after I had gotten my 1st baseball simulation game, Milton Bradley baseball for Christmas in 1969 (great game btw you can get it on eBay here) at the ripe old age of six.

This demonstrates a sports rule that extends even to games on paper. No matter what the betting line or the prognosticators say there is a reason why you actually play the games.

A Primer on Freedom of Speech & Association for both sides in the NBA / LeBron Business

Let me explain how freedom of speech works for all those angry on either side of the NBA/Lebron/China busines

Freedom of association means The NBA has the freedom to associate and/or do business with whoever they wish, including China

Freedom of speech means that players and or executives on their own time have the right to associate with whom they wish, but freedom of speech and associations means the NBA has the right when players and executives are on the clock or using league resources to limit their speech in ways that they wish (unless a contract specifies otherwise)

Freedom of speech might be also means that potential fans and customers of the NBA can publicly approve or disapprove of said decisions either by public expression or with their pocketbooks.

So here is what that means:

the Rockets GM had every right to tweet out what he did.

The NBA had every right if they decided it was in their interest to object to him doing so and then change their position when the heat was on.

The players have every right to say something, say nothing or equivocate on the China issue.

HOWEVER free speech also means that the fans, the media and everyone else has the right to publicly object, act protest and ridicule the NBA for those choices and act accordingly.

The bottom line is freedom of speech means freedom to speak or not to speak, to associate with someone or some group or not, to do business with a person, a group or even a country or not and to object to these choices or not.

This freedom exists even if we don’t like what they’ve done.

I like that the GM of the Rockets spoke up for Hongkong, I don’t like the NBA’s initial reaction nor the players reactions on this. I don’t like or respect LeBron’s reaction (although I’m sure most of the rest of the league is happy for him to take the heat so they don’t). However it’s their right to act how they wish according to law and it’s my right to react accordingly.

That’s freedom of speech!

Imagine if South African PM Pieter Botha invested in the NBA in 1979

After watching the NBA in general the last week and LeBron James in particular this week there must be a bunch of elderly South African exiles kicking themselves today. If only they had known!

Just think, if back in 1979 or the early 80’s South Africa PM Pieter Botha had the foreknowledge of today he could have invested a big chunk of South Africa’s not unsubstantial wealth in the NBA. What a difference it would have made!

Imagine Magic Johnson or Doctor J or Michael Jordan out there saying how misunderstood South Africa is. Ponder Celtics big three of Bird, Parish and McHale insisting that we have no business butting in. Picture Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman James Worthy, Patrick Ewing and the lot having no comment and finally Sir Charles statement on china rephrased defending his fellow players not getting into the issue of Apartheid in South Africa because of finances.

And why stop at South Africa? Think of all the other oppressive regimes in the past 100 years, if they only knew that a stake in an American sports league might have made the difference for them. The Central Powers might have won World War 1. Saddam might still be feeding people into wood chippers, the Soviet Union might not have fallen (the idea of funding US colleges turned out to operate too slow to save them), Idi Amin kids would be ruling Uganda, Hitler might still control most of Europe and completed his final solution.

And of course if baseball crazy Japan had thought of this in 1940 this entire China kerfuffle wouldn’t exist because Japan, thanks presumably to the support of US Ballplayers they had paid, wouldn’t have felt the need to hit Pearl Harbor. Instead they would still be ruling China with an iron fist.

All of these things could have been if they had only thought of investing in a US sports league the way China has the NBA.

Of course it’s just possible that today we are dealing with lesser sons of greater fathers who would not have sold themselves, but there just might be some elderly Japanese vet in a nursing home who fought in China in 1940 watching all this unfold on TV & thinking to himself. “It would have been worth a shot”

Real Dictators vs Liberal Fantasies (Xi vs Trump)

The characteristic of Pains and Pleasures is that they are unmistakably real, and therefore, as far as they go, give the man who feels them a touchstone of reality. Thus if you had been trying to damn your man by the Romantic method…you would try to protect him at all costs from any real pain; because, of course, five minutes’ genuine toothache would reveal the romantic sorrows for the nonsense they were and unmask your whole stratagem.

C.S. Lewis Screwtape 13

One of the defining characteristics of the last three years of the Trump Administration has been the media, the Democrats and activists insisting that he is a dictator and that they are being oppressed, that they are being censored, that the president is operating concentration camps and that any day could be the day that liberals , journalists, gays, etc etc etc would be locked up. I remember working with a young lady, a Bernie supporter who was convinced that she as a lesbian would be thrown into a camp by Donald Trump.

Of course the fact that people were and are freely able to express these opinions in social media, on television, in movies, in classrooms, in public speaking appearances and at rallies not only without fear but with financial and social rewards does not shatter the illusion of oppression to those residing in the kindergarten of Eden, a world where all the dragons you slay are made up out of the whole cloth. Reason and facts are insufficient to break that fun house mirror reflecting virtue and courage to those who wish to see it in themselves.

For that you need the harsh light of reality, which China is providing to the woke oppressed millionaires of the NBA:

Hotair has a list of ten times when the NBA, it’s players, coaches and stars had no problem making political statements, but once a Houston Rockets exec tweeted in support of Hong Kong suddenly folks like Steve Kerr decided they didn’t have anything to say:

As many others have noted over the past 36 hours, the league is known for — and celebrates — its wokeness. People like Kerr and Gregg Popovich are beloved figures among sports-loving liberals for their willingness to chime in on matters of social justice, and have received glowing coverage in the press for it. I don’t begrudge them their greater interest in American injustices than Chinese mass oppression either; it’s natural to worry more about how your friends are being mistreated than people a world away. But that rule of thumb isn’t foolproof: Surely we can agree that once the level of foreign oppression reaches the concentration-camp stage, some reflection on whether you should continue to do business there while ignoring what’s happening is in order. And yet here’s Steve Kerr, the woke coach, playing dumb right in front of reporters.

Folks like Steve Kerr who was never shy about hitting the president suddenly had nothing to say, but China has plenty to say:

Chinese state television said on Tuesday it would not air NBA exhibition games played in the country this week, heaping pressure on the U.S. basketball league after a tweet by a Houston Rockets executive backing protests in Hong Kong. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey apologised on Monday for any hurt caused by the tweet, which he quickly deleted over the weekend.

But China’s government, fans and the team’s partners have not been assuaged, resulting in loss of sponsors and broadcasts in the world’s second-largest economy and an important National Basketball Association (NBA) market.

“We strongly oppose Silver’s support of Morey on the basis of freedom of speech and we think any comments that challenge a country’s sovereignty and social stability is not within the scope of freedom of speech,” CCTV said Tuesday in a statement in Chinese, adding that it would review its relationship with the NBA.

The NBA issued a statement saying it regretted Morey’s remarks, drawing criticism from U.S. lawmakers.

and the Rockets’ owner was quick to tweet himself

The very woke Rolling Stone was not impressed

The Rockets and the NBA could have stood up for Morey, for decency, and for the protesters and their human rights. More than 2,000 have been injured in months of demonstrations that the Chinese government characterizes as “riots,” but selling sneakers, jerseys, and the game  But they instead folded all too readily, all too eager to hold onto the dollars that they glean from the Communist nation. 


The NBA issued a sorry statement, declaring the league realizes that the tweet may have “deeply offended” Chinese fans and that they “have great respect for the history and culture of China,” as if that had anything to do with a bill that could be used to disappear journalists and critics of an autocratic regime. Morey, who 
The Ringer reports was at one point in jeopardy of losing his job, tweeted his own apology that read like it was dictated by his boss. Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai, a co-founder of Chinese e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba, published an open letter on Facebook that referred to protesters as a “separatist movement.” Even James Harden, the Rockets’ star guard, issued a mea culpa for some reason, even though he wasn’t involved.


That last bit of rank submission to an autocratic regime captured the full extent of the NBA’s sellout to China. 
Several politicians on the left and right, including presidential candidate Julián Castro and Rep. Ben Sasse (R-MO), called out the NBA’s cowardice. Even Rockets fan Ted Cruz took a principled stand:

It’s apparently rather quickly that the NBA was between a rock and a hard place. It’s one thing for China to bully video games companies and brands here and there but the NBA is not a niche market and now you have seeing the censorship hit NBA games as well not to mention the spectacle of a CNN one of the most woke networks of the west asking a question at a press conference and being given the silent treatment.

Someone else immediately comes to take the mic away from Macfarlane. There’s some crosstalk as she argues that she’s asking a legitimate question that hasn’t been answered, but the real payoff to this clip comes when the camera cuts back to Harden and Westbrook. Both are sitting in front of microphones and obediently saying nothing as the question hangs in the air. The NBA is not talking about politics suddenly. Not a word.
I don’t think there can be any doubt about what is happening here. Everyone involved has been told—maybe warned is a better word—not to say anything about China or Hong Kong.

Or to rephrase it, these big strong nuclear athletes who are not afraid to speak out against an American president who they know won’t repress them are terrified of speaking out least they offend China.

I’d like to end with this tweet of Steve Kerr’s latest statement:

Congratulations are in order for Mr. Kerr and the NBA, they now have been taught very plainly by China what a real dictator, who makes you obey or else, is.

Don’t expect to see any sort of “resistance” against China from the NBA, not when there is something to actually lose on the line.